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African music never sleeps, and neither does Leonel.
Ivandro – “Povo”
From Angola: Last week, the Portuguese public TV station RTP unveiled the 20 songs that will take part in Festival da Canção, the nation’s Premier song contest, and as usual, we get some music from Portugal-based African artists, but this time is different; this year, an Angolan icon, and Portugal’s most streamed performer of 2022, was brought in, and what an incredible song he has presented.
“Povo” is a marvelous acoustic ballad that combines the cadence of Cabo Verdian morna with the soulful delivery of the finest r&b, underlined with the velvet caress of a guitarra portuguesa that carries the leitmotif. Ivandro speaks of the ‘European dream’ of being able to “buy a house and make a home,” a pivotal part of the African migrant experience, while his rich expressive tone brings down the full weight of nostalgia for the home village and the people left behind. A crushing intimate masterpiece.
Lamu – “Double It”
From Uganda: Sensuous, inviting Afropop tunes sung by women are a dime a dozen, but lyrics like “whatever she’s giving you, baby I can double it,” delivered so convincingly are way rarer. Lamu sounds genuinely determined to take your man.
Krys M – “Qui croira verra”
From Côte D’Ivoire: Once again, I’m falling under the spell of of the 4:3 polyrhythm, but Krys’ thundering, blaring voice rides this elastic beat over the edge.
Spinall x Olamide x Kemuel – “Bunda”
From Nigeria: In terms of production, Spinall is in the advanced class, several steps ahead of the rest of the Nigerian scene (which is saying a lot). The level of sophistication and the way percussions and synths are carefully layered in ‘Bunda’ shows the producer’s vast musical vocabulary, and give Olamide and Kemuel, a great amapiano-flavored backdrop for them to carry you with hooks.
Lukamba – “Boss”
From Tanzania: Bongo Flava is also using the musical forms of amapiano for their summer bangers, and this sparsely produced number by Lukamba is undoubtedly the trend’s standout track.
Davis D – “truth or dare”
From Rwanda: Davis is the master of smooth in Rwanda, as he’s been putting out one steamy jam after another.
Alvin Smith x Juno Kizigenza – “Akadaje”
From Uganda/Rwanda: Bouncy, effervescent pop jams is the chef’s specialty here, and this one has swiftly earned its place among Alvin and Juno’s best.
Kivumbi King x Kirikou Akili – “Yalampaye”
From Burundi/Rwanda: The High-octane dancehall party starter of the week; Kivumbi and Akili’s distinctive tones go so well together, it’s scary, especially when the foundation is such a precise distillation of Caribbean and East African sensibilities.